Paul has a degree in geography with French from London Metropolitan University. He moved to Scotland and got a seasonal position working for VisitScotland before progressing to a permanent role as visitor services adviser within the Edinburgh Visitor Information Centre
Before going to Scotland and joining VisitScotland, I worked for the British Council and the International Airline Passengers' Association. My degree course has been very relevant to my role as a visitor services adviser. My background in physical geography has been a great help and my language skills have also been valuable as some visitors do not understand English very well. I also developed a range of transferable skills during my studies that are vital to my current role, for example clear communication and the ability to successfully manage a heavy workload.
Every day presents new challenges. We sell tickets and passes for over 40 different products and promote and book tours throughout the country. Booking accommodation is also a key service. Many visitors request advice on what to see. Everyone's taste varies so finding out about our visitors helps ensure they have the best possible experience when 'Visiting Scotland'. We are always happy to help with enquiries of every nature ranging from putting people in touch with consulates when things go wrong to finding out where 'Excalibur' is hidden.
Since starting work at VisitScotland I have progressed to the role of duty visitor services adviser, which includes managerial responsibilities such as opening and closing procedures, supplier liaison information, cascading and complaint handling, and visitor services adviser trainer. The training role involves providing up to three weeks' training to new staff as part of the training team, as well as refresher training to permanent staff.
In terms of my future aspirations, the company actively encourages job progression and I would certainly be interested in something marketing related. I am passionate about Scotland as a brand and would love to help strengthen its position as a must visit, must return destination.
I enjoy helping visitors from all parts of the world and it is rewarding to help people to have a great time whilst visiting. I also enjoy the spirit amongst the team as our role requires enthusiasm and a passion for helping others. These are possibly the most important ingredients in inspiring visitors to want to get the most out of their time.
Visitor numbers rise dramatically at certain times of the year, particularly during the Edinburgh Festival season when the population literally doubles. Ensuring that everything runs smoothly so we still offer the same level of care to each visitor is a challenge. By being flexible as a team and by working together we always try to exceed expectations wherever possible.
For people who are interested in a customer-facing tourism role I would say the most important thing is to be enthusiastic about your product. This passion will rub off onto the visitor and they will naturally want to discover more. Things change so quickly in tourism that there will always be new things to learn so a passion for new knowledge will certainly hold you in good stead.
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